Thursday, February 25, 2010

Village Whiskey

Finally made it to Village Whiskey. Recently deemed the best burger in Philadelphia. Went for the standard burger with russian dressing and bibb lettuce (as opposed to the 24 dollar foie gras burger). Pretty great burger, I'm down with the soft sesame bun and minimal garnishes. The bottom half of the bun was soaked red with burger juice, but somehow managed not to fall apart - maybe because I ate it in about 3 minutes. Also the famous duck fat fries covered in short ribs and cheddar sauce, fantastic.

Lunch is the way to go here, there was no wait for a table (which can get brutal around happy hour / dinner ) and the menu is the same. The modern rustic thing they have going on feels real and comfortable. Pretty much all of Garces' restaurants win as far as design & service go. If I made a million dollars a year I would just sit at the bar all day drinking expensive whiskey and eating deviled eggs.

Village Whiskey
20th & Sansom

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Valentine's Day Dim Sum at World Tong

Not eating out on Valentine's Day has been a rule of mine for a very long time but this year was a happy exception. The plan was to make our way to Net Cost Market in search of reasonably priced caviar and stock up for a romantic meal at home but on our way I realized that we were just a few blocks away from a dim sum restaurant that I had been meaning to check out. We decided to make a detour and pop into World Tong.

We were seated immediately at the only empty table in the place. It took just a few seconds for it to register that not only was it Valentine's Day and President's Weekend but also the Chinese New Year and an ideal day for dim sum.

Tea was poured and chopsticks were set and the carts started coming. Metal steamers with dumplings filled with shrimp, pork, chives, and everything in between.

Plates of pork belly with shatteringly crisp skin and a sweet-sticky-sour dipping sauce.

Tempura fried peppers stuffed with shrimp paste that were deceptively spicy and insanely delicious.

Rice noodles wrapped around fried dough sauced with soy and scallion. Little pieces of spareribs with fermented black beans. Even tiny bird shaped pastries filled with sweet bean paste and painted with little red beaks and black eyes.

The meal was a whirlwind and there were at least ten dishes that we didn't get to sample for the sheer fact that there were only two of us and we couldn't possibly eat another plate. Plates of tripe with turnips and chile eggplant are two that I will definitely be going back for.

World Tong
6202 18th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11204

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pennsylvania Dutch Choucroute

Knockwurst and Smoked Kielbasa from the Amish, seared in bacon fat and cooked with sauerkraut and beer. Everything came from the Reading Terminal Market including the pickled green tomatoes and pickled sausage from AJ's pickle patch. Also "vegetable salad" which is basically just a rough cut slaw / pepper cabbage.

Family style seems to be the theme lately whether it's Russian food or barbecue. Big hunks of meat and a bunch of bowls of pickled stuff.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Russian Pirate Coney Island

Jake & Caroline took me to this amazing Russian pirate ship themed restaurant in Brighton Beach, right at the edge of what's left of Coney Island. Giant beers, smoked fish, fried potatoes with dill. Read the full report on Serious Eats New York.

Gambrinus Seafood Cafe
3100 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn NY

Friday, February 12, 2010

Torta De Salchicha at Puebla Mini Mart

Best and craziest Tortas I've ever had, in the back of a bodega in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Hot dogs, tomatoes, avocado, jalapenos, onions, bacon, grilled ham, a fried egg and mexican cheese, pressed & grilled sort of like a mega-sized cuban. I only ate half. This place does about 4000 different kinds of Tortas which all look amazing, super fresh & well built sandwiches.

Read my whole spiel on Serious Eats.

Puebla Mini Market
3908 5th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11232

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowy Day

The Italian Market during the storm.

Thit Heo Kho Tau

Or Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly. This is one of my dad's favorite things to eat and the last time I went home he sighed and told me my mom is too tired to cook these kinds of meals anymore. He went on to say that one day he boiled 6 eggs in hopes of her coming home from work and seeing the eggs would think "Oh I can make this dish that Daddy loves!" But no,foiled, he told me he looked in the fridge and the eggs were gone. My little brother made tons of egg salad instead.

Our good friend Oanh made this one rainy day and I had forgotten how much I missed it. So using her super simple recipe, I decided to make it during the snow storm. The best part was the next day, we toasted up some french bread and made vietnamese sandwiches with them, YUM!

For an awesome version of this recipe see Tia Nguyen's foodblog.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Flounder Hoagie - 16th Street Seafood

For most people in Philadelphia a hoagie means italian meats and sharp provolone. Tipped off by a kitchen co-worker a few years ago, I became aware of this mysterious "Fish Hoagie" .. a corner store soul food staple. At the time it sounded sort of nasty, especially when the only place I've ever seen it on the menu is a store with triple-thick glass and 6-packs of raspberry flavoured malt liquor for $4.50.

But it makes sense in a city that was once known for it's seafood, and biking down 16th street I kept passing this place with neon signs for fresh seafood and hoagies. 16th street seafood is basically a fish market with take out sandwiches and bean pies. Crab Cake, fish cake, trout, flounder, whiting. Tim got a crab cake sandwich that was just OK but my flounder hoagie hit the spot. Basically a Po-Boy, breaded & fried fillets with lettuce, tomato and mayo. Massive pile of crab fries for 3 bucks. I'm thinking deeper digging into the world of Fish Hoagies could uncover some serious hidden gems.

16th Street Seafood
16th & Tasker, Philadelphia


The Wing Bowl has almost nothing to do with wings. Although winner Super Squibb ate 238 of them, only 3 away from the wing bowl record.

Snooki got booed, a guy in a thong was pelted with full cans of beer, strippers groped each other while middle aged men rubbed their guts against the glass.

Read my full report on Serious Eats.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sunset Park 4am Tacos

Used to be middle eastern but now Mexican bodega with a full kitchen behind the counter. Super weird hours they open 7pm until 5 or 6 in the morning. Great for late night tacos after you stumble out of sketchy half empty Dominican bar where the waitress is giving a lap dance in the corner while a 60 year old guy sings karaoke (sorry no photos of that one).

Sunset Park is south, far far away from the hipster mess of Williamsburg and vicinity. If you like food, it's pretty amazing, with Sichuan, Malaysian, Ecuadorian, Mexican... sandwich shops, noodle stands, groceries and street vendors for 10 blocks in every direction. Sort of overwhelming. Nafa's 3901 deli grocery is by no means the best tacos in the neighborhood, just fresh simple and delicious. They were out of tongue so we just went for some beef tacos.

Good tamales too, although the torta was kind of boring and tasted like a mcdonald's chicken sandwich. Apparently the locals stick with the tacos which my friends told me to do but I just can't help myself. Place was packed at 4 am so you know it's the real deal. And a drunk guy just standing in the corner yelling at the TV.

3901 Deli Grocery
7th Ave & 39th St. Brooklyn

Tamale Underground
El Jorocha
Savoy Flower Shop Tacos

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dae Jang Keum Korean BBQ

It's really refreshing to eat somewhere without any preconceptions, especially if the food is great. Without reading 75 reviews, googling and yelping, but just getting in a car and driving or taking a walk and stopping when you see a sign that looks good. I knew there was good Korean food in North Philly & Cheltenham but didn't really do any research first. Which can be a disaster when you travel 10 or 1000 miles and come home to realize you ate at the crappy knockoff version of the real place that was 2 blocks away, which has happened before (chicago, paris) but not this time.

Dae Jang Keum is right on the border between Philadelphia and Cheltenham. Beneath the sign for BBQ in korean is a big yellow banner that reads "Shrimpie's now open! Largest Shrimp & Lowest Price!" but once inside there was no evidence of the korean-bbq turned fried fish restaurant I was sort of scared (hoping?) we might find. Nobody spoke a word of english which is a good sign in my book.

The semi-private booths are super comfortable. Huge karoake rooms outfitted with BBQ tables and flat screen TV's are available in the back. Anyway this was some serious Korean BBQ, much better than anything I've had in center city or South Philly. Pork Belly, Bulgogi, Short Ribs and 7 million sauces and garnishes. The servers cook the meat for you here, nice but I actually enjoy doing it myself, although probably not a good idea for the hung over state I was in.

The BBQ here was so good, really nice looking meats and very different from the sort of sad looking scraps you might get at lesser Korean spots. And more garnishes than I've ever seen, covering every inch of the table, all really good, various marinated and pickled things, great Kimchee that I guess I've never had made right because I went through two plates of it here, that they kept refilling.

They also brought us a steamed egg dish and some desserts on the house, furthering the theory that every time the camera comes out restaurants give us the VIP treatment. I also might bear a slight resemblance to a grainy xeroxed photo of a certain philadelphia food writer... or maybe the service is really just super friendly. 3 meats and a few sides plus freebies, for 4 people and I think our bill was something like 58 dollars?? Amazing. Definitely going back soon.

Since then I've read that Kim's BBQ is the go-to North Philly Korean BBQ and surprised to find almost no reviews of Dae Jang Keum. We also checked out the shopping mall around the corner that has a giant Korean H-mart grocery, Paris Baguette Cafe and more places to eat. Also a guy out front selling roasted sweet potatoes aka goguma from a makeshift cooker, it was good but could have used some salt or something? But for 2 bucks, can't really complain.

Dae Jang Keum
1910 W. Cheltenham Ave

H-Mart Korean Mini Mall
7300 Old York Rd.
Elkins Park, PA

For more about Koreatown check out this great Rick Nichols article from a few years back-
The evolution of Korean food in Phila (Inquirer)

Tuscan Tony

Finally had the Tuscan Tony at Paesano's. It's amazing. Split & grilled beef hot dog wrapped in sopresatta; longhots, bolognese, Liscio's bread. Their other sandwiches will blow you away as well. Good thing Paesano's is opening a new location at 9th & Christian this week.

152 West Girard Avenue

9th & Christian (opens wednesday)


Hot Dog Of The Week - Tuscan Tony on Serious Eats
The New Paesanos In Pictures- Meal Ticket